What an atmosphere Saturday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
The 17,000-plus in attendance was the most energetic crowd of the season thus far. A packed Cauldron kept the place loud with chants taunting Seattle Sounders’ keeper Kasey Keller all game long.
Sporting’s play was gutty and inspired, especially so when they went down to 10 men after Omar Bravo was shown a red card early in the second half.
Before the red card, SKC dominated possession and created multiple dangerous chances mostly off crosses. Winger Kei Kamara played an inspired 80 minutes, and put KC on top in the 20th minute with a nice header off Matt Besler’s long throw-in (which is becoming quite a weapon).
For 90 minutes of regulation KC battled and scrapped, putting together what I thought was one of their best performances of the season, holding onto that one goal lead all game.
Then with mere moments left in the game, and a scrappy victory seemingly in hand, everything went to shit…
In the 90th minute, Seattle tallied the tying goal, reducing SKC’s hard-earned three points down to just one, and deflating the raucous crowd. Then, 60 seconds later, the Sounders ripped Sporting’s heart out when they put the ball past Jimmy Nielsen again.
Moments later, the referee signaled full time, leaving many heads hanging, wondering how Seattle had stolen another one right out of the SKC win column.
All was lost, including the record setting unbeaten streak at LIVESTRONG.
After the game, KC coach Peter Vermes took the opportunity to call out the officials, taking issue with the decision to show Bravo the straight red for his dangerous tackle, and repeating something that most everyone who follows MLS is in agreement on: MLS officials are bad.
And he’s right – MLS officials are generally sub-standard. But on this particular play the zebras got it right, and the only one to blame is Omar Bravo himself.
Bravo left the ground and came in high with a two-footed, straight leg tackle, studs up. Yes, he contacted some of the ball, but he also took Seattle’s Pat Noonan down hard.
That’s how legs get broken. And that’s an easy call for any ref to make.
The referee immediately showed the red card, which led to a skirmish as Noonan got in Bravo’s face and several other players ran in. As the two stood toe to toe, Bravo faked that he had been hit with a head butt and he went down in a heap holding his face. However, replays clearly show there was no contact.
Punk move, Omar, that’s about all I can say.
But despite the red card, Sporting still fought admirably the rest of the game – save the last two minutes. Kei Kamara stepped his game up to another level, taking on Seattle defenders on the right flank, and looking like he could do whatever he wanted with the ball at his feet. He destroyed Sounders left back Tyson Wahl repeatedly with both his speed and cunning dribbling, then sent in several decent crosses that resulted in excellent scoring chances.
But that elusive second goal never came.
Just before Seattle got the tying goal, substitute Teal Bunbury had a two on one breakaway with a streaking Chance Myers to his right. Instead of making the correct play, though, and dishing the ball to his teammate, Teal unleashed a long 25 yard bomb that went just wide of the far post.
Pass the ball!
I know it’s only one play, but on the next sequence Seattle scored the tying goal. If Teal had played Chance through, he certainly would’ve gotten a decent shot on goal. And maybe things would’ve ended differently.
After the game, SKC players were in shock over the three points that slipped through their fingers so quickly.
“I’m still kind of playing the plays back through my head and I just don’t think we did a great job managing the game in the last few minutes,” said defender Michael Harrington. “There were some decisions that we made that weren’t good decisions and it ended up biting us and those goals that were scored were a bit unlucky with balls going through guys legs and deflecting, but that’s no excuse. It’s a heartbreaker to not get any points.”
Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who was celebrating his 34th birthday that day, was equally stunned.
“Right now at the moment, it’s very painful to lose a game like we did today,” said Nielsen. “I think we deserve better. I think we did a great job today.”
On the positive side, Sporting now has a week and a half break until their next game to get healthy and put this horrific loss behind them.